By Richard C. Sinopoli
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Extra resources for From many, one: readings in American political and social thought
The former asks that we simply let them be, whereas the latter demands an affection that comes from personal knowledge and shared values. Nonetheless, it is still important that Americans feel some common bond, some sense of shared enterprise. Without this, such necessary qualities as respect for law and a willingness to abide by it (as discussed by Abraham Lincoln in his speech to Springfield's Young Men's Lyceum), and even tolerance itself for fellow citizens who do not look or think as we do inevitably will be eroded.
This comes through most clearly in Federalist #10, reprinted in this text. The Constitution's opponents remained in the camp of traditionalists on this score, as is indicated by the following remark of Montesquieu which is quoted by Brutus, an Anti-Federalist from New York, in the selection in this volume. In a large republic, the public good is sacrificed to a thousand views; it is subordinate to exceptions, and depends on accidents. In a small one, the interest of the public is easier perceived, better understood Page 14 and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses are of less extent, and of course are less protected.
Indeed, the task of constitution-building in the United States was largely one of devising a government that meets these two conditions and does so in ways consistent with rule by consent of the governed. This last point returns us to Jefferson's second sense of self-governmentgovernment under majority rule. Thus, liberal democracies combine (as many of the readings in this collection will show) the rights of individuals with the will of the majority in often-uneasy harmony. We have said a bit about liberal understandings of human nature and government.
From many, one: readings in American political and social thought by Richard C. Sinopoli